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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

Mark Burnett and Roma Downey produced "The Bible" for the History Channel.

History Channel makes ratings history


One of the early criticisms of the History Channel was its concentration on everything World War II-related. TV critics, comics and other writers would make mentions of the number of documentaries that would air on the cable outlet.

Later, channel executives were told they went too far the other way. As much as people would find themselves watching "Ancient Aliens," one had to wonder if the station managers were taking themselves seriously. Eventually shows like "Pawn Stars," "American Restoration" and "American Pickers" started gaining viewers and appearing among the most watched programs in prime-time schedules.

On Sunday night, the History Channel launched its five-week miniseries "The Bible" and the network's first scripted series "Vikings." Breaking ratings records on the channel, more than 13.1 million tuned in for "The Bible" and "Vikings" followed with 6.2 million.

Produced by reality TV master Mark Burnett and his wife, actress Roma Downey, "The Bible" will run on the next four Sundays, wrapping up the final show on Easter. The 10 hours of programming runs though stories in both the old and new testaments.

"We've been working on this project for the past four years now and are deeply honored to be given this once-in-a-generation opportunity to breathe new visual life into the Bible's profound stories," Burnett and Downey said in a statement.

NETWORK GIG: If you missed Milwaukee's Matthew Nichols performance on "True Crime With Aphrodite Jones" on the Discovery Channel on Monday night, don't fret, you can catch a re-airing. Nichols portrayed District Attorney Joe Paulus in the show's premier episode titled "Burning Passions." The program will re-run at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

POST-MILLENNIALS: Welcome to the season of TV upfronts, where networks share their plans for spring and fall programming with prospective advertisers.

Nickelodeon was one of the first upfronts this season, creating blocks of new programming to go after what it calls the post-millennials – or children born after 2005. I guess the old "SpongeBob SquarePants" is just too old now. New to the network will be its first STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) show called "Blaze and the Monster Machines."

NOT JUST TV: Proving that the idea of an upfront doesn't just fit one medium, Gannett, the company behind USA Today, decided to do an upfront of its own. Now, to be honest, the publisher knows a few things about broadcast with 23 TV stations and also has a big digital presence with a number of media properties.

AOL, Hulu, YouTube and Dow Jones will also be holding upfront presentations to woo advertisers in the next few months.

BRAILLE GAMES: WISN-TV Ch. 12's Joyce Garbaciak will be presenting the awards at the Braille Games on Friday at Milwaukee Public Schools' Gaenslen School in Riverwest.

"Braille Games is such an important opportunity for blind children to use braille in a fun and competitive way while being mentored by blind adults who are self-sufficient and independent. These mentors share their skills in reading and writing braille while talking about their studies in college and their professions. It's crucial for blind children to know the vast array of opportunities available to them in adulthood," said Cheryl Orgas, the executive director of ABLE, Inc.

Talkbacks

High_Life_Man | March 6, 2013 at 5:27 p.m. (report)

Watch those ratings plummet. Both shows were pretty bad.

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